Thursday, June 04, 2009

Dining Out @ Hakka Republic, Menara Hap Seng, Kuala Lumpur



4 June, 1989 - 20 years on from the Tiananmen Square and China somehow seems to have not lost some of its craziness to control everything. (They just banned Twitter, Flickr and Hotmail about 2 days back!) While China has made some great steps in the economy and etc, these actions seem to suggest a step backwards for them in terms of accepting how the world has changed. Today's main picture also seemed appropriate since coincidentally we dined last night at Hakka Republic, a relatively new restaurant and wine bar in Menara Hap Seng, which has a picture of a Mao-lookalike on its logo.


the starters were nice and light. Must-try here is definitely the steamed wagyu beef with ponzu sauce. They also serve these cute buns that reminded me of tau sar pneah!

Back to the food, we have heard good things about this place from friends and I was eager to try out their wine enomatic machine, hence we dined there last night. The place was a little quiet of patrons as most of them were inside a private room having a riot of time with their wines (2 old bottles around the 1980s were being decanted on the bar counter). Since we were the only patrons there, we had top-notch service and recommendations from the management there.


main courses, the dining area and the red wine, of course

Contrary to what everyone thinks, this place does not serve Hakka or Chinese food but they serve Western food. Some of their items have a Japanese slant to them, as the chef used to work in a famous Tokyo restaurant called Fujimamas. The steamed wagyu beef (RM120 for 100g) was highly recommended by friends and the restaurant. We absolutely loved the thinly sliced tender wagyu beef slices that topped cabbage leaves and sliced carrots. Steaming vs grilling the wagyu beef, seems to bring out its flavour more. Dip the thin slices with their own ponzu sauce (a mix of yuzu juice and soy sauce) or the creamy sesame sauce. They only use grade 9 wagyu here, as it has enough marbling to be tender when steamed. No lower grade supermarket quality wagyu beef served here. The marinated tuna tartar with cold green tea soba noodles and japanese citrus dressing (RM25) was refreshing with light tangy flavours. Even though the noodles were slightly overcooked and soft, we liked the tangy dressing it was tossed with.


our tummies were groaning from the food, hence it was a light ciku sorbet for dessert and complimentary rich fruit cake from the owner. See that tree, it is a reflection of the chinese words on the bar within the restaurant.

For the main course, we went with their recommendations and ordered the crispy duck confit with fig compote and potato galette (RM44), the miso marinated black cod with braised baby kailan and sesame dressing (RM44) and the grilled garlic, mustard, herb crusted angus beef tenderloin with chili roasted baby potato and portobello-marsala reduction (RM72). I was a little skeptical about the duck confit but was pretty good and not oily. One difference from the menu's description was, instead of a potato galette, we were served mashed potatoes, which I prefer since galette is not a favourite of mine. The cod was fresh, cooked perfectly and flaked beautifully when cut. Our only complaint was probably the part we were given was not fat enough as it a tad not smooth. Nevertheless, we did enjoy that dish and wouldn't mind returning for their kampachi fish dish (which was unavailable that day as they had rejected the fish since it was not up to their par!), in the future. The angus beef tenderloin was slightly overcooked (we asked for medium rare but it came more on the medium side) but still very tender and delicious. For light eaters and those watching your waistline, the menu can be quite treacherous as it has creamy soups and quite a lot of meat dishes.


I didn't get to snap Hakka Republic's enomatic machine since it would have been too obvious but here's some pictures I did take of the machine in Italy

Feeling very very full from that dinner, we opted for a light ciku sorbet as desserts were too heavy (bread and butter pudding, chocolate fondant and etc). The nice lady owner, who was at hand most of the night with recommendations, gave us some of their rich fruit cake drizzled with brandy sauce to try. Based on a family recipe, this version was the light brown type with fruits. Since most of us preferred the dark brown and alcohol laden version, this was a little too light for us but nevertheless, it is still very good especially for those who don't like their fruit cakes too rich.

For the wines, they claim to have the first wine enomatic machine in Kuala Lumpur (I've been told this may be bending the truth a little as some people claim to have seen the machine here before!). Having sampled the machine in Italy (per my pictures), I was fascinated to give it a try here. The machine can store a variety of wine bottles preserved with a revolutionary inert gas, that allows you to try wine by the glass. Depending on the machine, you can set how much to pour out (10ml, 20ml, 60ml, a glass and etc).

At Hakka Republic Bar, they have 4 white wines and 12 red wines in the machine. You can opt for tasting portions (about 20 ml) or half portions like what we drank (60ml) or the full glass. It is a great way to sample different wines (she has a selection of Australian, Spanish, French, South African and Italian wines including a Super Tuscan here) and not waste your monies if you don't like a particular wine. Unlike other places in town, the menu here is also a little different as below each food item, they recommend the appropriate wine to go with it by the glass with the price. Great for those who are very adventurous and when they are dining with friends who don't want to drink as sharing a bottle may be too much. We sampled two red wines; an Australian Robert Parker (RM24.50 for 60ml) and the highly recommended Spanish Bodegas Rejadorada Novellum (RM37 per 60ml). Preferred the Spanish one as it was more well rounded vs the Australian wine that felt a little too young.

For me, the draw here is definitely the enomatic machine since it gives me an option to try various wines I won't usually order by the bottle. Especially since most of my friends don't want to try the pricier wines or just don't want to drink, when we dine out. With my glass of wine, I reckon, my order would be their steamed wagyu beef, which I love and the refreshing tuna tartar.

Hakka Republic
Lot 2.05, Level 2
Menara Hap Seng
Jalan P.Ramlee
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03 - 2078 9908

(Pork free. Open for lunch and dinner till late. On Sundays, they have a brunch buffet. Place is located on the same floor as Elegant Inn and Xenri D'Terrace. For more information on their menus, wine list and other reviews by magazines, see their website.)

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.

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Other people who dined here:

  • Jean who says their set lunches comes with generous portions even though she was a little confused about the name.
  • Eat Drink KL who had drinks there only but his post has loads of interior shots.
  • Kimthing who had her birthday celebration there.

24 comments:

thule a.k.a leo said...

For once, I really thought Hakka United IS a Chinese (even if not Hakka) restaurant!! Until now...
Definitely love the wine enomatic machine concept, as I have only seen Samantha Brown of Passport to Europe fame tried it in Italy.

Sean said...

ooh, this is the first time i've heard of such a machine! must remember to check it out next time.
yeah, hopefully your review will point more customers to this place. it's definitely a hidden gem. i haven't tried the steamed wagyu beef, but i recall that the wagyu burger is thick and satisfying...

550ml jar of faith said...

I've been wondering how come this place hasn't been more vigorously blogged about! I hear they have this fantabulous Sunday buffets with free flow alcohol?? Sounds right up my alley. Wine dispensing machine?? I'm there!!!

ToyBoy & ToyGirl said...

The entire concept is So interesting. Must go try.

And if you need company to go for wine...you know who to call. *wink wink* ^O^

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

ohhh wat a good way to find a wine u like..without spilling over by ordering a glass of each..

Sugar Bean said...

Why did they name is as Hakka Republic when they don't serve Chinese/Hakka food?

First time I've heard of ciku ice-cream. Wanna try it out!

Jean said...

When I saw the name, I tot they serve Hakka food too! (I'm a Hakka girl..^^)

thenomadGourmand said...

Ya lor..tht name so misleading!
Hoep we get to staple these dishes tonite!

-eiling- said...

This is another misleading restaurant name! But the place and food looks nifty. It's worth to try. As for the enomatic wine machine, I think I've heard about it in KL long time ago.

J2Kfm said...

wait... they DONT serve hakka food?
aiks! you've got me confused with another Hakka restaurant lah.

there's one near Pavilion right?

boo_licious said...

leo - I reckon the whole town thinks so too. Definitely one of those names, they shld rethink again.

Sean - give it a try, great way to get good wine by the glass. Yeah, maybe by word of mouth this will start something as it's really quiet. They seem to do quite a lot of events though; tiffany, guinness and etc.

550ml - yeah, I wanted to try the buffet once but no one was interested at the time. Sigh! The drinks aren't free flow but priced the same as happy hour. Still, it is a steal and great for those looking to kickback and enjoy the Sunday.

toyboy & toygirl - did bring it up to all of you sometime back abt the Sunday buffet and happy hour drinks but I guess with so many busy weekends, we kinda forgot abt this. Nevermind, can always go when we have an available Sunday.

Joe - yes, in Italy, you pay ahead and use a card to select which wines you want.

Sugar Bean - it tasted more like granita though, the ciku sorbet. No idea what is the correlation of the name to the food, though. Am sure we will hear more abt it soon.

Jean - hey! I'm also a Hakka gal. Guess it sounds a different when named Hakka Republic?

thenomadgourmand - judging from the excited tweets and smses flying around tnite, it sounded like a successful review.

eiling - yeah, a few people told me that enomatic machines are not new in KL. Someone else had it before but no one can remember where it was!

j2kfm - that one is typical chinese restaurant and called just Hakka! LOL.

CUMI & CIKI said...

we went! we saw! we chomped! (thx for pointer on wine.. LL informd me of ur post and we didnt miss it! :P)

thenomadGourmand said...

yes! we did hv a great time! really sumptuous food.

Odet said...

HR is fairly new and they seem committed to improve and the value for that quality is excellent. The Kampachi fish and the Miso Cod are delicious.....While the name is an initial drawback it is controversial enough to make an impression, and today, that is nearly everything. On the Enomatic machine, I believe it is the first not just in KL but in Malaysia. In Singapore it can be found at Terminal 3 and a wine bar that used to be at Republic plaza. The fact that the machine is very expensive probably has a lot to do with it.

thule a.k.a leo said...

is the concept where they give you a card preloaded with money (something like a prepaid card). And when you want to drink certain wine, you just insert the card into the slot and push the button??? Top up again when the credit is low???

Odet said...

That, apparently is used in Europe. Here it is much better- pay as you drink. They sell portions of 20ml, 60ml(half glass) or 120ml(full glass. Prices vary according to the wine. I have seen a bottle of Messorio on the machine and my friends claim they even saw a bottle of Cheval Blanc 1982!!! Unbelievable! Cant afford that though I am sure.

-eiling- said...

Odet: wow I wonder how much that bottle of cheval blanc would cost?!!

boo_licious said...

ciki & nomadgourmand - looks like you had fun and a feast from LL's post.

Leo - yes, they have that overseas but not here. We did that in Italy to sample the machine.

Odet - yeah, we were dissapointed we didn't get to try the Kampachi fish as that sounded unique. HK could be currently the only one in Msia having it but I don't think they're the first as some other place had it a few years back. In Spore, Decanter at St Regis Hotel also has the enomatic machine.

Danny said...

Hi there. Erm..planning to go there for a friend's birthday dinner and i am much concerned on thier selection of Reisling Wines since they don't really have a full wine list on thier website.

Well, indeed am a bit particular cause my friend, she love sweet wine so thought of make sure she has the best selection to match with the food there.
Look forward to your respondse.

Hakka said...

Danny
We have the following wines that may appeal to your friend's tastes.
Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris Calcaire 2006
Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Wintzenheim 2006
Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Herrenweg de Turckheim 2006
Grosset Polish Hill Riesling 2004
The Gewurtzraminers are particularly delicious and go very well with Foie Gras. We also have a variety of dessert wines if you fancy something rich to finish off your meal. Drop by any time and any of our staff or our Manager Arby Leong will be happy to help you.
See you soon.
P.S. many thanks masak-masak

Shaun Lee said...

I know this is quite an old post, but I can't help but to comment on the Gewurtzraminer recommendation for Danny.

Zind Humbrecht are pretty good winemakers (the Gewurztraminer Wintzenheim 2006 scored 88 points with Wine Spectator. and yes, I checked) but you might want to be careful as Gewurtz's tend to be very floral and intense on the nose. I once had a Gewurtz that smelt like perfume. I kid you not.

Some people love it, some hate it. Not many in betweens. However, the intense aromas do stand up to quite a few Chinese dishes!

Masak-masak, is Gewurtz your kinda drink?

Hakka said...

The name Gewurtzraminer literally means "Spice Traminer", or "Perfumed Traminer".The variety has high natural sugar and the wines are white and usually off-dry, with a flamboyant bouquet of lychees. Indeed, Gewürztraminer and lychees share the same aroma compounds. Dry Gewürztraminers may also have aromas of roses, passion fruit and floral notes. One of the few wines that many say, stand up well to Asian cuisine and many lone it as a complement to the rich flavour of foie gras.

Shaun Lee said...

Hakka: Your comment really made me think of tandoori chicken. Random, I know. But I think it will go well with the Gewurzt!

Anonymous said...

I tried Hakka Republic after reading your rather old post and some other reviews. I must say , my guests and I enjoyed ourselves tremendously. Great steaks and I was told an excellent Beef Wellington. I had a Chawan Mushi Foie Gras which was divine and went exceedingly well with the Gewurtzraminer they recommended. The bonus that evening was what I would say some top notch live music with a just great blues, jazz singer from Bali.
Hakka Republic is a great addition to the KL Bar and restaurant scene.

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